A Tale of Two Fences…

Current (and long-time) WSP fence

Current (and long-time) WSP fence

Fence being installed

Fence being installed

So Commissioner Benepe says that this new 4 foot fence (currently being installed) does not have spears on top. The issue is relevant because Commissioner Benepe made an “agreement” in 2005 with City Council Member Alan Gerson and Council Speaker Christine Quinn to install a new fence without spears and that kept the “inviting nature” of the Park.  Commissioner Benepe writes, in his letter to me: “Despite your assertion, the top of the fence has rounded balls, not ‘spears,’ as you put it. In any case, it was never intended that people would sit on top of the fence.” I’d argue that the fence has spears with “rounded balls” at the top of the spears.

Interestingly, Washington Square Park, previously, before the last redesign, had NO fence around it. It was with the 1970 design that a fence – the current 3 foot fence – got installed (correct me if I’m wrong on the time frame). Now, the Parks Department is installing a four foot fence. What will the height of the fence with the Park’s next redesign be?

Commissioner Benepe also missed my point. The community want the fence kept at the lowered height.  That would have been truly listening to the community (articulated during all that “review” Commissioner Benepe references) vs. imposing what Parks Commissioner Benepe and Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted.

I realize people couldn’t sit on top of a four foot fence – that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? The “Gerson-Quinn Agreement” stipulates (and, note:  part of my issue with the Washington Square Park Task Force is that they have not been paying close enough attention, ensuring that the agreement is enforced, by staying on top of these things) that the new fence “preserve the park’s sense of openness and its inviting character.”

Does this fence do that?

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Note: Since there is a Washington Square Park Task Force meeting this evening, I am going to hold off on responding to Parks Commissioner Benepe until Friday so I have the most up to date information.

There is nothing wrong with the Parks Department economizing but…

Lights at Abingdon Square

Lights at Abingdon Square

Lights at Washington Square Park

Lights at Washington Square Park

Do these lights at Abingdon Square (W. 12th Street) and Washington Square look similar?

If so, it’s because they are!

Also note that the chain link fence in the background at Abingdon Square is the same as the one being installed in the interior spaces at Washington Square.

Both spaces were designed by Parks Department landscape designer George Vellonakis.

Abingdon Square also used to have a lot of open public space that has now been filled in by lawn. Do we notice a theme going on?

And, as a community member queried about the lamps, “Did the Parks Department get a discount at Restoration Hardware?” Perhaps so!  (Update: Corrected.  Not Home Depot as originally posted.)

Note: I can think of some other places the Parks Department could economize (even abandoning whole portions of their “plan”!) — in the $27 million (and rising) Washington Square Park budget … items that would make a lot of people happy and counter some of the resentment over their steamrolling of their plan — other than with important details like the lights and fencing.